BMW Group is the world's first car maker to use polypropylene foam as a visible contour material on an innovative center console. Neopolen P foam from BASF helps reduce weight by around 30 percent compared to the previous solution. Molding technology specially developed for this purpose eliminates steps otherwise necessary for the conventional process - production now consists of only a single step. Use of Neopolen also allows additional functions to be integrated into the center console. For example, the foam molding process can already provide for ventilation channels for the air-conditioning system serving the rear of the car's interior.
The process starts by laying a thermoplastic substrate into the mold, filling its cavity with foam beads, and using steam pressure to weld these two elements into a molded part. During the same step, movable bars place smooth sheeting on the molded part and firmly bond it with the material. At the same time, the bars' grain structure and the heat from the steam lend the sheeting its typical texture. This gives the component an appealing surface with a softer feel. BMW Group will be using this lightweight structural element in its cars in the future. As the next step, the company will be selecting the models for which the component will be part of series production .
Neopolen P has very good noise insulation properties, low weight, and high thermal resistance. This particle foam combines high energy absorption - even after multiple impact loads - with good resilience and isotropic deformation performance. Its property profile, which also includes low moisture absorption and good resistance to chemicals, opens up a wide range of applications in sectors from packaging and transportation to sport and leisure.